Every SEC team's biggest loss to the transfer portal
The comings and goings through the NCAA transfer are getting more numerous by the year.
And, thanks to recent rules changes, more and more players are finding new homes within their conference.
So while it’s getting harder to keep track of all the players switching teams, many of those who do switch will remain familiar to conference rivals because they stayed in the same league.
This is certainly true in the SEC.
Every team in the SEC has had subtraction and addition to their roster through the portal since the end of last season.
Here’s a look at every SEC team’s biggest loss to the transfer portal:
Alabama: LB Drew Sanders
The Crimson Tide always lose key players to early entry into the NFL Draft, especially on defense, but always have dependable replacements ready to step in. Now, they’re starting to lose a lot of talent to the portal, too.
Sanders, a 5-star who had 24 tackles (2.5 for loss, 1 sack) in 12 games last season, could have taken on a bigger role in 2022 but chose to go Arkansas, where the Hogs expect him to make an immediate and profound impact.
Arkansas: CB Joe Foucha
The Razorbacks invested 4 years in Foucha, who played in 13 games last season and had 74 tackles, 7.5 for loss, 1.5 sacks, 1 interception and 5 pass breakups, but that investment won’t be paying any more dividends in Fayetteville. He’ll be playing for LSU.
Auburn: DL JJ Pegues
Pegues is a former tight end who started to figure out his new position last season (17 tackles, 2 for loss, 1 forced fumble) and will continue his development at Ole Miss.
Florida: LB Mohamoud Diabate
Diabate found a role last year in his third season as he made 89 tackles, 2 for loss, but he won’t be available for new coach Billy Napier. He’ll be in Utah.
Georgia: WR Jermaine Burton
Burton was one of the most productive receivers for the national champions last season. He was 2nd on the team in receiving yards (497), tied for 2nd in TD receptions (5) and 1st in yards per catch among those with at least 10 catches (19.1). He had 26 receptions.
But he won’t be around to help the Bulldogs defend their title after choosing Alabama.
Kentucky: CB Cedrick Dort Jr.
The Wildcats weren’t hit as hard in the transfer portal as some other teams, but Dort did have some experience. He played in 11 games last season, though he made just 14 tackles. He’ll be at Wisconsin next season.
LSU: CB Eli Ricks
New Tigers coach Brian Kelly was very active in bringing in players through the portal, but he also had some key losses through it. The biggest was Ricks, a budding star who is now at Alabama.
Mississippi State: LB Aaron Brule
Brule spent 4 years with the Bulldogs and was their 5th-leading tackler last season (52). That included 7.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks. He’s expected to build on those numbers at Michigan State.
Missouri: DL Mekhi Wingo
Wingo made the SEC All-Freshman team last season (27 tackles, 1 sack, 1 interception) – but when this youngster blossoms he will be at LSU.
Ole Miss: CB Keidron Smith
The Rebels have been ranked in some quarters as the program with the best class that came through the portal, but Lane Kiffin also saw some players depart that way. One is Smith, a 4-year player who’s still looking for a new team.
South Carolina: DB Dominick Hill
Like Kentucky, the Gamecocks were mostly unscathed by transfers, but Hill played in 12 games last season and could have provided experience in the secondary. He’s going to Temple instead.
Tennessee: RB Tiyon Evans
This is the 2nd consecutive year the Vols have lost a key running back.
The Volunteers will try and build on the improvement they showed in coach Josh Heupel’s first season last year (7 wins after 3 in 2020), but they’ll do so without Evans. He only played in 7 games because of injuries, but was still the 3rd-leading rusher, averaging 6.5 yards on 81 rushes and rushing for 6 touchdowns. He’s going to Louisville.
Texas A&M: QB Zach Calzada
Calzada never became the consistently effective passer that coach Jimbo Fisher would have preferred, but he was good enough to beat Alabama and start 12 games last season. He completed just 56.3% of his passes but threw for more than 2,000 yards with 17 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. He’s staying in the SEC West at Auburn.
Fortunately, the Aggies will be OK. They hit the portal and signed LSU transfer Max Johnson.
Vanderbilt: T Tyler Steen
Steen was a 3-year starter at tackle, opening 10 games on the left side last season. His return would have been helpful to a mostly inexperienced line. Instead, he’ll play elsewhere in 2022.